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BRAUN: VIR Debrief

Colin Braun files his latest Sportscar365 column following VIR…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

I was looking forward to going to VIR. The track itself is really cool. It’s got so much character and a rhythm to it. I think everyone was unsure what the new pavement was going to be like, but the track did a good job.

The changes were subtle enough that it improved the race track but didn’t take away from the overall flow. Hats off to Kerrigan Smith and everyone at VIR that put in the effort.

I think if you had a bunch of classes out there racing we would have used a lot more of the new sections, but since it was just us and the Lites cars we didn’t really use a tremendous amount of the new areas, but certainly it was easier to pass and race side-by-side.

This race was a little different in comparison to Kansas. It was so easy to pass the Lites cars at Kansas; you could just drive around them on the front stretch and in the banking.

At VIR it was more challenging because if you got stuck behind or beside a Lites car going through the Esses, it really changed the game, because it’s one lane through there and you couldn’t pass them.

It was a weird schedule at VIR. On Friday both Jon Bennett and I drove in practice and everything was normal, but on Saturday Jon did all the work. He qualified and did the race.

On Sunday, I did all the work. I did the warm up and the race. We each sort of had our day. I’d prefer to have a more conjoined schedule where I’m not sitting around on Saturday!

I thought Jon did a good job in his race. He did a great job qualifying; he was only half a second from qualifying second.

With the races being so short, if you don’t get a good start, it’s tough to gain positions. He did a good job and finished seventh. I knew going into my race that we had a fast car.

We were quickest in both practices and the warm up. I just knew I had to work through the guys ahead of me as quick as I could.

I didn’t get the lucky start I was hoping to get so I think I actually fell to dead last on the start just because I was stuck on the outside. I had to pass everyone one-by-one from there on up to second. I guess it was kind of a blue collar working day for me passing those guys!

All and all the format was a bit confusing. I liked the Kansas format a little better where the finishing results of race segment two were the results.

At VIR it was more like an average of the two finishes, so even though I crossed the line in second, I knew that didn’t mean that’s how we’d be scored points.

Fortunately, we had a formula to work out the points for us, so the team could work out where we were going to finish overall pretty quickly. I guess the best way to approach that format would be like the 8Star guys and just win both races!

I think we’re an endurance sports car series so it’s strange to do the double sprint race format when that’s not what our style of racing is about.

We’re supposed to be about long races with pit stops and driver changes. It was interesting and fun to have a couple of these split races, but I don’t think it’s what me and the guys at CORE are about; we’re about long races and strategy and multiple drivers playing a part in the same race.

I think IMSA has a plan for keeping us in more endurance style races next year, which would be great.

It was fun getting to be on the PA and call the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race with Jon Fippin at VIR. It was a different experience than when I do TV interviews or when I’m on the radio and you need to give a short answer.

When you’re commentating on a two-and-a-half hour race it’s more about longer answers and more in-depth explanations on things. It was fun to get a better idea of what the TV and PA broadcasters do.

It’s definitely not an easy job and I don’t think I’ll be trading in my day job anytime soon!

We’ve got a couple weeks off now before COTA. I’ve got some of my Radical clients with a few races coming up so I’m looking forward to coaching those guys again and I’m looking forward to some good eats in downtown Austin.

Colin Braun (@colinbraun) is a sports car racing standout and former NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series driver, currently racing with CORE autosport in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

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